An aromatic residue, tyrosine 326 in the prototypical human beta 2-adrenergic receptor, exists in a highly conserved sequence motif in virtually all members of the G protein-coupled receptor family. The potential role of this conserved aromatic amino acid residue in the cellular processes of sequestration (a rapid internalization of the surface receptor) and down-regulation (a slower loss of total cellular receptors) associated with agonist-mediated desensitization of the beta 2-adrenergic receptor was assessed by replacing tyrosine residue 326 with an alanine residue (beta 2AR-Y326A). This mutation completely abolishes agonist-mediated receptor sequestration without affecting the ability of the receptor to activate maximally adenylyl cyclase, to undergo rapid desensitization, and to down-regulate in response to agonist. The only other major change associated with the mutated receptor is a complete loss of the ability to resensitize following rapid desensitization. These results imply that this tyrosine residue, which is part of a highly conserved sequence motif in G protein-coupled receptors, may be responsible for their agonist-mediated sequestration and that sequestration and down-regulation of the receptor are dissociable phenomena. The lack of resensitization in the sequestration-defective beta 2-adrenergic receptor mutant strongly suggests that the sequestration pathway is an important mechanism by which cells re-establish the normal responsiveness of G protein-coupled receptors following the removal of agonist.